Dig and Eat!
September 16, 2020
I have gained leadership skills by being a lead farmer in my group. Before the project, I had never been a leader.Elizabeth Karea
My name is Elizabeth karea living in Ntithini village, Thiiti location in Mukothima ward Tharaka Nithi County. I have one husband blessed with 4 children one in secondary school, 3 in primary school, both us are peasant farmers. I have 3 acres where I stay and farm. I plant sorghum, millet, cow peas, green grams and maize.
Before this project came I was ploughing my land using ox-plough and tractor after burning crop residue. There was a lot of soil erosion which resulted to low yields per acre. For example, in one-acre piece of land I used to harvest 50kgs of maize under conventional farming. I did not understand the importance of crop rotation
To earn some cash for food and other household needs, I would do casual jobs such as clearing farms, digging terraces in people’s farms in other peoples farms where I used to be paid Kshs.250 per day. Other times I would sell the few chicken that I had. I would go fetching water for the local food kiosks for pay.My Children would accompany me so that we could have enough money to cater for family needs.
Intervention/ Implementation provider
I became NCCK’s Conservation Agriculture(CA) project beneficiary in 2017 and got interested to be trained on farming. At first, I noticed that my neighbor, Ibrahim Kithaka, who is now a Principal Lead Farmer (PLF), had very healthy maize crops in his farm that he never used to have in the previous seasons. I got interested to know what he had done to have good maize crops in his farm. Upon visiting him, he explained me that he had attended a training by NCCK where he learnt Conservation Agriculture principles from NCCK staff and practiced and that’s why his farm looked different. I asked him if I could join their Conservation Agriculture farmers group, Kathomi Self Help Group. He invited me to the group trainings where I met Isaac Koome, NCCK agronomist, who taught us on the CA principles;
Minimum disturbance of soil (just digging where you place seed), I learnt that by just digging where I place seed, I protect soil structure and improve the ability of soil to hold water. I also prevent soil erosion.
Permanent soil cover – By covering the soil, I ensure soil moisture is well conserved and also prevent soil erosion. Soil cover also suppresses weeds thus reducing labor in weeding., Intercropping & Crop rotation their benefits – That by intercropping & crop rotation soil fertility is improved.
The NCCK staff also helped me to understand the disadvantages of the conventional methods of farming. My eyes were opened!
That season I decided neither to plough my farm neither burn crop residues. I decided to try out the CA principles in a piece of land that barely produced 2 bags of any crop planted. I dug planting basins in one acre and planted sorghum and intercropped with green grams. I also did mulching in two acres and planted maize with cow pea intercrop. In both farms I did not plough. That season I saw a great change in production! In the one-acre land where I planted sorghum and intercropped with green grams, I was able to harvest 3 bags of sorghum and 4 bags of green grams. In the two acres I that planted maize directly and intercropped with cow peas, I harvested 4 bags of maize, 6 bags of cow peas.
The Kathomi Self Help group that I joined in 2017 grew in numbers and multiplied into another group called Bidii Self Help Group. I was chosen as a lead farmer in Bidii group where I still serve todate.
- I have gained leadership skills by being a lead farmer in my group. Before the project, I had never been a leader.
- As a result of practising Conservation Agriculture, I have enough food for my family. I have surplus to sell.
- From the sales of surplus, I started a business and constructed a good house. I now have money to cater for other family needs.
- Children are not chased out of school anymore because am able to pay school fees on time.
- I want to continue practising Conservation Agriculture (CA)
- Inadequate access to capital during farm operations for farm inputs.
- Pests & diseases in crops. For example, Fall Army worms in Maize & sorghum.
- For CA farms near homestead, chicken scratching the covering materials is a major problem.
- Cattle and goats grazing in my farm hence destroying my agroforestry and soil cover. My neighbors still free graze their cattle.